First reviewed here.

It’s a shame that this world can’t give us the perfect version of this match.

We get close here, but there’s just so much set dressing around this that keeps us grounded in an unfortunate reality. There’s the fact that this match may rock in isolation, but in the grander scheme of things, really only serves the build to something far inferior: an MJF/Bryan feud. That means we have some complicating matters like the brief angle of Bryan getting barred up in his locker room in an attempt to get a forfeit win for Rush. It doesn’t last long enough to detract from this, but what does go on forever is MJF on commentary. For those with access to FITE, might I recommend switching to a different language feed.

But when the bell rings, all these superficial concerns just kind of evaporate. What’s left is much closer to the core essence of both of these competitors. Two men so fully devoted to their respective visions of professional wrestling, and the ability to back that up in the ring.

For Rush, it manifests as this wildly energetic burst of violence. He’s so overwhelming with his offense, to the point that he feels like one of the handful of wrestlers on the planet capable of not only cutting off Danielson, but knocking him into a deep hole as well. Rush is not intimidated, he’s not open to be picked apart, he plays no games. He’s a bull charging head on and it’s astonishing to behold. Beyond just how goddamn hard he hits and how much he crowds in on Danielson for most of this, he’s just so charismatic too. Always taking a moment to soak in the jeers of the crowd, but never too long such that the action begins to sag. At points, he feels genuinely psychotic like when he ponders Danielson’s blood on his hands. He’d lick it too if Aubrey didn’t stop him.

There’s such pride in Rush throughout this, such that when Danielson starts finally coming back towards the end of the match, Rush can’t help himself but meet the attack straight on. Chop for chop, headbutt for headbutt, god it rocks so fucking much.

As for Bryan Danielson, well that’s a familiar story to us at this point. On this night, he reaches into the pure underdog that made him undeniable in 2013, combined with that secret sauce: blood. One of the masters of the blade gets good and flowing on this night. What’s key to the bloodletting though is everything else the body does to supplement it. Look at how Danielson puts over the exhaustion of the beating, the wooziness of the blood loss. For much of this match, while Rush is in control, Danielson’s frame seems to almost close in on itself. He’s protecting his already injured arm, his legs are unsteady from the beating. Helps too that the blood spatters onto a ringside camera’s lense. It’s a truly inspired underdog performance from the GOAT, accompanied by some real sicko shit like the big bump onto the floor.

When Danielson starts to come back though, it’s a stunning thing. This isn’t the calculated breakdown he applies to others, but a pure, raw fight for survival. He works to punch, slap, kick, and headbutt his way free and I’m with him for every single moment of it.

Between the bells, this match offers a glimpse at something better. Perhaps take away the glossy TV production, throw this into a dingier lucha indie venue, have funs running and screaming away from the action, broken beer bottles and trash littering the floor. Danielson and Rush having a lucha brawl for the ages. That’s not what this is, but it’s close enough to believe.

Some matches create worlds of their own.

IS IT BETTER THAN 6/3/94? Another close one that lacks the kind of history that 6/3/94 carries so well. That being said, gusher blood is better than an ear trickle, and the raw magnetic energy of this crowd living and dying by Bryan Danielson trying to overcome Rush feels like something else. Still, it’s weighed down by how the booking and circumstance weighs it down slightly. We’re so close to something truly meaty and substantial here but the investment that goes into 6/3/94’s long history probably wins the day for now.

Rating: ****1/2

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